Preventing Cellular Aging: Tips, Recipes, & Maximizing Food Nutrition


For the past month or so, I’ve been speaking around the Portland area on preventing cellular aging.  Below is a compilation of the presented material. Each recommendation has been substantiated through research to support the aging process through cancer prevention, neurological preservation, and/or cardiovascular protection.

Sulforaphane (SFN) is a chemical found in cruciferous vegetables. Cruciferous veggies: broccoli, broccoli sprouts, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, green and red cabbage, collard greens, mustard greens, kale, bok choy, swiss chard, watercress, turnips, rutabaga, and radishes.

There is a lot of research that supports the use of SFN in supporting healthy aging.

  • SFN has been shown to reduce cancerous activity in mice (1)

  • Slowed the doubling rate of CA biomarker (PSA) by 86% (2)!

  • SFN reduced extent of brain damage post epilepsy by protecting brain mitochondria

  • SFN given daily x 10 weeks lowered inflammation (4). These markers IL-6 and CRP are predictors of physical and cognitive performance (5)

  • SFN helps us excrete toxins, therefore preventing the buildup and potential DNA damage (6)


Instructions for growing broccoli sprouts (7):

  1. Add 2 tablespoons of broccoli sprouting seeds to a wide mouthed quart jar.

  2. Cover with a few inches of filtered water and cap with the sprouting lid.

  3. Store in a warm, dark place overnight. I use a kitchen cabinet for this.

  4. The next morning, drain the liquid off and rinse with fresh water. Be sure to drain all the water off.

  5. Repeat this 3-4 times a day. Continue to store your seeds in a warm, dark place. After a few days, the seeds will start to break open and grow.

  6. Eventually, the sprouts will be an inch or so long and have yellow leaves. Now you can move the sprouts out into the sunlight.

  7. Continue to rinse them 3-4 times a day until the leaves are dark green. Now they are ready to eat!

  8. This whole process will take about a week. Patience is key!

  9. Once they are ready, replace the sprouting lid with a standard mason-jar lid and store in fridge.

Serve on top of salads, stirred into soups, or however strikes your fancy!

Vitamin D is actually a steroid hormone that controls the expression of over 1000 genes. Vitamin D levels that are too low and too high are associated with increased incident of death from all disease (8).

  • Low levels of vitamin D reduced the risk of cancer by 67% (9)

  • Mice with both deficient and excess vitamin D levels exhibited shortened lifespan and premature aging (10)

  • Vitamin D effects brain cells by modulating brain inflammation that is associated with neurodegenerative and neuropsychiatric diseases with an inflammatory component (11)

Vitamin D comes from UVB radiation from the sun. Factors that reduce our levels of vitamin D include: wearing sunscreen, darker skin color, aging, and obesity. Get your levels tested! This is a simple blood test that your doctor can order. In the meantime, get outside in the sun let your skin be exposed. Food sources of D include mushrooms that have had sun exposure and oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, sardines, and herring.

Folate: required B vitamin to replicate DNA when a cell replicates itself. Also required in a pathway that inhibits the buildup of homocysteine. Elevated homocysteine levels are associated with increased risk for cardiovascular disease.

  • Folic acid affects mood and cognitive function, especially in older people. Adult patients with anemia due to folate deficiency, approximately 2/3 have neuropsychiatric disorders (12)

  • A study using mice showed that a diet sufficient in folate resulted in less cancer expression as compared to a diet deficient in folate (13)

Top 10 Folate Rich Foods (14)

  1. Garbanzo beans, ½ cup: 557 mcg

  2. Liver, 3 oz, 221 mcg

  3. Pinto Beans, ½ cup, 146 mcg

  4. Lentils, ½ cup, 179 mcg

  5. Spinach, 1 cup, 56 mcg

  6. Asparagus, ½ cup, 134 mcg

  7. Avocado, ½ cup, 61 mcg

  8. Beets, ½ cup, 68 mcg

  9. Black eyed peas, ½ cup, 112 mcg

  10. Broccoli, 1 cup, 57 mcg

Magnesium: an abundant mineral in the body that is a cofactor or more than 300 enzyme reactions. Magnesium involved in everything from protein and energy production to cell replication. Low Mg is associated with a decline in memory, poorer muscle and bone integrity, and some forms of cancer (15). Recommended intake is about 400 mg for an adult and increases as we age.

Here are the top 10 Magnesium-rich foods (taken from the USDA) (16)

  1. Spinach, cooked – 1 cups: 157 mg

  2. Swiss chard, cooked – 1 cup, 150 mg

  3. Dark chocolate – 1 square, 95 mg.

  4. Pumpkin seeds, dried – 1/8 cup, 92 mg

  5. Almonds – 1 oz, 75 mg

  6. Black beans – ½ cup, 60 mg

  7. Avocado – 1 med., 58 mg

  8. Figs, dried – ½ cu, 50 mg

  9. Yogurt or kefir – 1 cup, 46.5 mg

  10. Banana – 1 med., 32 mg

Microbiota and Microbiome: there are more bugs than there are cells in the human body, and the microorganisms in our gut encode genes and are involved in metabolic reactions. Having a robust and diverse microbial makeup is associated with decreased levels of inflammation (17). This is important, because most age related diseases are associated with increased inflammation. Incorporate foods that have probiotics such as kimchi, kombucha, sourkraut, natto, pickles, yogurt, kefir, tempeh, etc. These foods add bugs to our environments. In order to keep these bugs alive, we need to eat foods that are high in fiber. It is the fiber that feeds the bugs. Foods high in fiber include: vegetables, fruits, legumes, and whole grains.

Sauna Use: regular use of the sauna has been shown to benefit the aging process. Moderate to high frequency (4-7 days per week) is associated with lowered risks for dementia and Alzheimer’s (18). Frequent sauna use is associated with lower systemic inflammation (19). And the more you use the sauna the better!  In one study, the rate of death from cardiovascular disease and stroke decreased as sauna frequency increased (20).

Fasting: Prolong caloric restriction,that is reducing your calories while maintaining proper nutrition, has been found to extend life span. Rodents whose calories were restricted by 55-65% had a 36-65% greater mean lifespan and results were also seen with a 20-40% reduction in calories (21).